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So I just returned from my trip to Florida and Florida Coastal, and I decided to copy and paste this message I sent another prospective FSCL student for all to read. I hope it helps anyone else that is thinking about attending!
Wow, there is so much I could say!
First of all, the building is wonderful. It is top notch, at least compared to other law schools I've visited. The staff and admissions people talk about the school as if it were the best thing since sliced bread. They speak as if Harvard is second class compared to Florida Coastal! LOL! The entire time I felt like I was being lied to! The admissions lady and the lady that gave us a tour of the library both sounded like they were reading from a script! Everything was so fake, so well rehearsed!
Iíve done lots of research on the school, and I know that it has the worst reputation in Florida, (next to Florida A&M, of course). I also know that it has the one of the worst reputations among law schools in general! Do you know of Cooley, the law school that's pretty much considered the worst law school in all of the United States? Well, after I was done with my admissions tour, I stayed outside of the school and stopped a bunch of students as they were walking into the school. I asked them about their candid opinions on the school, and one of the students told me that she actually attended Cooley, and that she feels Cooley is BETTER THAN Florida Coastal! I was in shock...that cannot be a good thing.
This same student told me that the professors at Florida Coastal are not good. She doesn't feel challenged and feels that other law schools can offer a better education. She told me to attend the best law school I get into and only attend Florida Coastal if I want to practice in Jacksonville, Fl, because my degree from FCSL will not transfer well into other parts of the country.
Another thing that worried me is that the admissions lady told me that 70% of students are out of state, with only about 1 or 2% from Jacksonville and 30% from Florida...red flag!
This is not a tier one school, and this made me think that maybe it's true what they say about FSCL having such a horrid reputation in Florida....it's so bad, that the Florida residents avoid it! They lure in students from other states that don't do their research and are easily swayed by their location in Florida and by their awesome facilities.
The bottom line is that, no matter how awesome it is to live in Florida, no matter how amazing their building is, no matter how much the admissions people brag about the fact that there isn't a need for parking permits and plenty of free parking, and it's right by the beach, and blah, blah, blah...in the end, the MOST IMPORTANT thing is whether this school is going to lead you to a great career that's going to help you quickly pay off the TON of debt you're bound to incur, (because the school is almost $30,000 a year, and their financial aid is only one loan for $20,500 a year. The rest of the tuition and cost of living pretty much has to come out of your pocket, unless you're lucky enough to quality for other loans you apply for on your own).
I spoke with a lot of students at Florida Coastal, and most of them only had good things to say, (besides that one lady that made the Cooley comments). However, when I asked deeper questions, I realized that while the students are trying to make the best of it and enjoying their time at FSCL, they are looking at a grim future with no good job prospects in sight. I met a 3L in the library who was very enthusiastic about the school and said she loved her time there. She is getting ready to graduate in a few weeks, and I asked her if she has any jobs lined up or at least some job prospects in sight and her happy, "I love Florida Coastal", demeanor quickly turned into a look of shame and embarrassment as she told me that she has no job prospects in sight, none at all! I was blown away by this. I mean, having a TON of debt, over $100,000 worth, and busting your butt in law school to graduate and not have a job is NOT okay. Then I thought, well, maybe she's just not so lucky, maybe it's just her, so I asked her if many of her classmates and other soon-to-graduate 3L's have jobs lined up, and she said, "No, no one I know has a job lined up or a possible job in line."
WHOA! RED FLAG!
I know the economy is bad, and the legal market is hard, but come on! NO ONE from the graduating class can get a job??? I've heard those rumors about FSCL before, but I didn't know if I should believe them, but yesterday I saw for myself, first hand, that it's true! I did talk to one lady that said her boyfriend attends FSCL and is doing very well, has great job prospects, ect...BUT he's in the very top of his class, and he's a much older, nontraditional student. Another guy also said he loved his time there, but he also was doing very well and in a top % of the class. Honestly, every student I spoke with sounded like they liked their time there and were trying to make the best of it, BUT there was something in the way they spoke that hinted to me that they felt I should attend elsewhere if I could.
Finally, the last thing I should mention is that their grading curve is INSANE! They kicked out 20% of the 1L class, and just recently lowered the % to make it a bit better, but it's still pretty bad.
MY CONCLUSION is that Florida Coastal is not a law school for serious law students. It is the kind of school you should attend ONLY IF:
1. You didn't get in anywhere else
2. You are just looking for an easy way to move to Florida
3. You have a ton of connections with the legal world, and know that there will be a job waiting for you when you graduate, regardless of what school you attend.
Otherwise, I wouldn't attend.
I was very upset, because I REALLY, REALLY wanted to attend school in Jacksonville, and I really wanted Florida Coastal to be as good as the admissions people try to make it out to be...but it's not, and I just can't risk it. I'm not sending in my seat deposit. :-(
While I was in the library, the lady giving us a tour was talking about how she thinks FSCL is the best law school choice for me, and some students sitting nearby overheard this and started snickering and laughing...almost as if they knew she was pulling my leg. :-(
I should note, however, that everyone was VERY nice and very helpful. Everyone I stopped seemed like they would sit and talk with me for hours and hours if time allowed.
It's great that you have other options so you don't have to go to a law school that didn't appeal to you. Florida Coastal is associated with some of the best high profile lawyers in the city and their passing rates are good. It doesn't have a "horrid" reputation in Florida. Several posters said they had relatives that graduated from the school and passed their boards on their first attempt.
Good luck at whichever one you choose though!
Florida is unique in that its state law schools (lower tuition) are better than the higher priced private schools.
The rule with respect to law school: Go to the best school for the least money you can get into.
Law is going through some major changes right now, so position yourself well. IF you go to a school like FLorida Coastal, WORK YOUR REAR off to be at the TOP of your class. Also, many other law schools in Florida (FSU, UF) will take admissions applications for 2Ls who do well at subpar law schools, so if you go to Florida Coastal for 1L, you can try to get into a different school for 2L and 3L.
You would be better off not going to law school than going to Coastal. Coastal is possibly the worst ranked school in the nation. No serious employer will hire you outside of Jacksonville. Even inside of Jacksonville employment will be difficult to come by.
I would not recommend going to the "best" ranked school you get in though. That isn't good advice.
For example, going to UF or FSU will do you more good than going to Boston College, for example. Your debt load will be a lot lower.
The best advice is to go to the cheapest but still best law school that you get in. Either that or just don't go to law school. The legal market is rough right now for everyone even graduates from top schools. Right now a lot of firms are laying off attorneys. So a new graduate will have to compete with experienced attorneys for jobs.
The poster who said that Coastal grads are lucky to get jobs as State Attorney's or PD's in crappy rural areas is dead on. That's a common fate for Coastal grads. You'd be happier and better off becoming a teacher, or better yet get a job at Wal-Mart and work your way into management. Wal-Mart managers are paid quite a bit more than Public Defenders.
The prior poster makes an important distinction. The best advise is to go in to the best school you can get into unless the schools are relatively equal, then go to the more affordable school. However, if you're accepted by a cheaper state school like FSU, but also get accepted into a substantially better school, such as the University of Chicago, it is best to go to the better school.
With regards to employment, good attorneys are always employed. There are not too many good attorneys. Of course, it takes years of perseverance and hard work to acquire the skills to effectively practice law. The law is for the committed and persistent. It is not an easy path, but it is rewarding, particularly after you've mastered a practice area.
As someone who practiced law for more than 25 years, I would not recommend embarking on a legal career at this time. The profession simply has become oversaturated. Unfortunately for the young people considering law school, that fact is not yet widely known. Law is still perceived as a prestigious occupation that will enable students to one day earn a good living. However, there are far too many attorneys for the number of jobs available, and the increase in number of law schools is only worsening the problem. This result is declining salaries, bleak long-term employment prospects and a loss of professionalism and collegiality. Florida is one of the worst examples. Its demand for attorneys is easily met by the graduates of its two public law schools, FU and FSU. Yet it is deluted with a supply of attorneys from half a dozen expensive private schools, as from law schools outside the state and attorneys relocating from elsewhere. Someone intelligent enough to be accepted to law school should not ignore basic economics - supply and demand. Look for opportunities elsewhere for a bright future. I am very happy to be retired now.
I'm an attorney and an FSU law grad. I can tell you that if you go to UF or FSU and make good grades then you are in fine, fine shape even in this market. However, Coastal or Nova or even Stetson are different stories.
DO NOT go to Coastal unlesss your dad has a firm that he will move you into or you are just wealthy anyway (then why go to law school?) and don't have to worry about the debt load.
Coastal grads, even in Jville, are not highly regarded. I don't say this to offend-- but everyone in the legal community knows the relative talents of the incoming crop of newly minted attorneys and FSU and UF grads are snagged up first.
So I've recently applied because well, I haven't been successful with getting into another other law school. I've read the posts and I'm aware of what I'll be getting into, if accepted. I want to know who hard it is to transfer.I want to know why everyone keeps saying that FCSL costs almost $30,000. On there website, it states that it only costs $16,000 so I'm confused as to where the extra 1000s are coming from. I even called to make sure and they said yes, it costs $16,000.
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